Provide safe passage out of Afghanistan - UN Security Council tells Taliban

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New York – The UN Security has passed a resolution asking the Taliban to ensure safe passage of people wanting to leave Afghanistan, allow humanitarians to access the country, and uphold human rights, including for women and children.

Thirteen of the 15 ambassadors voted in favour of the resolution on Monday, which further demands that Afghanistan not be used as a shelter for terrorism.

Permanent members China and Russia abstained.

Countries condemned in the strongest terms the deadly blasts at Kabul airport on Thursday, which more than 150 people and upwards of 200 more. The terrorist group Islamic State in Khorosan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility.

The attack targeted people fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover two weeks ago, and international forces assisting the evacuations.

Thousands of Afghans have been trying to escape from the country ahead of the full withdrawal of the United States by its self-imposed Tuesday deadline.

The resolution was tabled by the United States, alongside fellow permanent Council members France and the United Kingdom.

“The Security Council expects the Taliban to live up to its commitment to facilitate safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or after August 31,” said U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

“Consistent with the right to leave any country, including one’s own, everybody must be allowed to safely leave Afghanistan, for whatever reason, whenever they want, by air or by land. This is of the utmost importance to us.”

Since July, the U.S. has evacuated more than 122,000 Americans, foreign nationals and at-risk Afghan citizens, she reported.

Thomas-Greenfield added that the resolution also reflected the Council’s “crystal clear” commitment to assisting those who remain in Afghanistan.

“It underscores that all parties need to facilitate humanitarian assistance, and that humanitarian actors be given full safe and unhindered access to continue service delivery to those in need,” she said.

French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière called on Taliban to be committed to the of allowing Afghans to leave the country at any time.

“This resolution calls on everyone to make all efforts to secure the airport and the surrounding area,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

On the issue of human rights, UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward emphasised the need to protect gains made over the past two decades, stressing that the rights of women, children and minorities must be safeguarded.

She described the resolution as an important step towards a unified international response to the situation in Afghanistan.

In explaining his vote, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Russia was forced to abstain because certain “principled concerns” were not reflected in the draft text, which was circulated on Friday.

“Firstly, despite the fact that the resolution was proposed against the backdrop of a terrible terrorist attack, the authors categorically refused to refer to a passage on the fight against terrorism.

It refused to refer to a passage on the fight against terrorism containing internationally recognised terrorist organisations ISIL and the East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun stated that given the fragile situation on the ground, and the uncertainties, any Council action should help ease tensions, and not intensify them.

“The recent chaos in Afghanistan is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops,” he said.

“We hope that relevant countries will realise the fact that withdrawal is not the end of responsibility, but the beginning of reflection and correction, ” he added. (NAN)